On the shore of a lake stood an artichoke with its green leaves waving in the sun. Very proud of itself it was, and well satisfied with the world. In the lake below lived a muskrat in his tepee, and in the evening as the sun set he would come out upon the shore and wander over the bank. One evening he came near the place where the artichoke stood.
"Ho, friend," he said, "you seem rather proud of yourself. Who are you?" "I am the artichoke," answered the other, "and I have many handsome cousins. But who are you?"
"I am the muskrat, and I, too, belong to a largefamily. I live in the water. I don't stand all day in one place like a stone."
"If I stand in one place all day," retorted the artichoke, "at least I don't swim around in stagnant water, and build my lodge in the mud."
"You are jealous of my fine fur," sneered the muskrat. "I may build my lodge in the mud, but I always have a clean coat. But you are half buried in the ground, and when men dig you up, you are never clean."
"And your fine coat always smells of musk," jeered the artichoke.
"That is true," said the muskrat. "But men think well of me, nevertheless. They trap me for the fine sinew in my tail; and handsome young women bite off my tail with their white teeth and make it into thread."
"That's nothing," laughed the artichoke. "Handsome young warriors, painted and splendid with feathers dig me up, brush me off with their shapely hands and eat me without even taking the trouble to wash me off."
The Rabbit and his grandmother were in dire straits, because the rabbit was out of arrows. The fall hunt would soon be on and his quiver was all but empty. Arrow sticks he could cut in plenty, but he had nothing with which to make arrowheads.
"You must make some flint arrowheads," said his grandmother. "Then you will be able to kill game."
"Where shall I get the flint?" asked the rabbit.
"From the old bear chief," said his old grandmother. For at that time all the flint in the world was in the bear's body.
So the rabbit set out for the village of the Bears. It was winter time and the lodges of the bears were set under the shelter of a hill where the cold wind would not blow on them and where they had shelter among the trees and bushes.
He came at one end of the village to a hut where lived an old woman. He pushed open the door and entered. Everybody who came for flint always stopped there because it was the first lodge on the edge of the village. Strangers were therefore not unusual in the old woman's hut, and she welcomed the rabbit. She gave him a seat and at night he lay with his feet to the fire.
The next morning the rabbit went to the lodge of the bear chief. They sat together awhile and smoked. At last the bear chief spoke.
"What do you want, my grandson?"
"I have come for some flint to make arrows," answered the rabbit.
The bear chief grunted, and laid aside his pipe. Leaning back he pulled off his robe and, sure enough, one half of his body was flesh and the other half hard flint.
"Bring a stone hammer and give it to our guest," he bade his wife. Then as the rabbit took the hammer he said: "Do not strike too hard."
"Grandfather, I shall be careful," said the rabbit. With a stroke he struck off a little flake of flint from the bear's body.
"Ni-sko-ke-cha? So big?" he asked.
"Harder, grandson; strike off bigger pieces," said the bear.
The rabbit struck a little harder.
"Ni-sko-ke-cha? So big?" he asked.
The bear grew impatient. "No, no, strike off bigger pieces. I can't be here all day. Tanka kaksa wo! Break off a big piece."
The rabbit struck again -- hard! "Ni-sko -- cha?" he cried, as the hammer fell. But even as he spoke the bear's body broke in two, the flesh part fell away and only the flint part remained. Like a flash the rabbit darted out of the hut.
There was a great outcry in the village. Open-mouthed, all the bears gave chase. But as he ran the rabbit cried: "Wa-hin-han-yo (snow, snow) Ota-po, Ota-po -- lots more, lots more," and a great storm of snow swept down from the sky.
The rabbit, light of foot, bounded over the top of the snow. The bears sunk in and floundered about helpless. Seeing this, the rabbit turned back and killed them one by one with his club. That is why we now have so few bears.
A Dakota girl married a man who promised to treat her kindly, but he did not keep his word. He was unreasonable, fault-finding, and often beat her. Frantic with his cruelty, she ran away. The whole village turned out to search for her, but no trace of the missing wife was to be found.
Meanwhile, the fleeing woman had wandered about all that day and the next night. The next day she met a man, who asked her who she was. She did not know it, but he was not really a man, but the chief of the wolves.
"Come with me," he said, and he led her to a large village. She was amazed to see here many wolves -- gray and black, timber wolves and coyotes. It seemed as if all the wolves in the world were there.
The wolf chief led the young woman to a great tepee and invited her in. He asked her what she ate for food.
"Buffalo meat," she answered.
He called two coyotes and bade them bring what the young woman wanted. They bounded away and soon returned with the shoulder of a fresh-killed buffalo calf.
"How do you prepare it for eating?" asked the wolf chief.
"By boiling," answered the young woman.
Again he called the two coyotes. Away they bounded and soon brought into the tent a small bundle.
In it were punk, flint and steel -- stolen, it may be, from some camp of men.
"How do you make the meat ready?" asked the wolf chief.
"I cut it into slices," answered the young woman.
The coyotes were called and in a short time fetched in a knife in its sheath. The young woman cut up the calf's shoulder into slices and ate it.
Thus she lived for a year, all the wolves being very kind to her. At the end of that time the wolf chief said to her:
"Your people are going off on a buffalo hunt. Tomorrow at noon they will be here. You must then go out and meet them or they will fall on us and kill us."
The next day at about noon the young woman went to the top of a neighboring knoll. Coming toward her were some young men riding on their ponies. She stood up and held her hands so that they could see her. They wondered who she was, and when they were close by gazed at her closely.
"A year ago we lost a young woman; if you are she, where have you been," they asked.
"I have been in the wolves' village. Do not harm them," she answered.
"We will ride back and tell the people," they said. "Tomorrow again at noon, we shall meet you."
The young woman went back to the wolf village, and the next day went again to a neighboring knoll, though to a different one. Soon she saw the camp coming in a long line over the prairie. First were the warriors, then the women and tents.
The young woman's father and mother were overjoyed to see her. But when they came near her the young woman fainted, for she could not now bear the smell of human kind. When she came to herself she said:
"You must go on a buffalo hunt, my father and all the hunters. Tomorrow you must come again, bringing with you the tongues and choice pieces of the kill."
This he promised to do; and all the men of the camp mounted their ponies and they had a great hunt. The next day they returned with their ponies laden with the buffalo meat. The young woman bade them pile the meat in a great heap between two hills which she pointed out to them. There was so much meat that the tops of the two hills were bridged level between by the meat pile. In the center of the pile the young woman planted a pole with a red flag. She then began to howl like a wolf, loudly.
In a moment the earth seemed covered with wolves. They fell greedily on the meat pile and in a short time had eaten the last scrap.
The young woman then joined her own people.
Her husband wanted her to come and live with him again. For a long time she refused. However, at last they became reconciled.
Sharp and cunning is the raccoon, say the Indians, by whom he is named Spotted Face.
A crawfish one evening wandered along a river bank, looking for something dead to feast upon. A raccoon was also out looking for something to eat. He spied the crawfish and formed a plan to catch him.
He lay down on the bank and feigned to be dead. By and by the crawfish came near by. "Ho," he thought, "here is a feast indeed; but is he really dead. I will go near and pinch him with my claws and find out."
So he went near and pinched the raccoon on the nose and then on his soft paws. The raccoon never moved. The crawfish then pinched him on the ribs and tickled him so that the raccoon could hardly keep from laughing. The crawfish at last left him. "The raccoon is surely dead," he thought. And he hurried back to the crawfish village and reported his find to the chief.
All the villagers were called to go down to the feast. The chief bade the warriors and young men to paint their faces and dress in their gayest for a dance.
So they marched in a long line -- first the warriors, with their weapons in hand, then the women with their babies and children -- to the place where the raccoon lay. They formed a great circle about him and danced, singing:
"We shall have a great feast
"On the spotted-faced beast, with soft smooth paws:
"He is dead!
"He is dead!
"We shall dance!
"We shall have a good time;
"We shall feast on his flesh."
But as they danced, the raccoon suddenly sprang to his feet.
"Who is that you say you are going to eat? He has a spotted face, has he? He has soft, smooth paws, has he? I'll break your ugly backs. I'll break your rough bones. I'll crunch your ugly, rough paws." And he rushed among the crawfish, killing them by scores. The crawfish warriors fought bravely and the women ran screaming, all to no purpose. They did not feast on the raccoon; the raccoon feasted on them!
A Dakota had married an Arikara woman, and by her had one child. By and by he took another wife. The first wife was jealous and pouted. When time came for the village to break camp she refused to move from her place on the tent floor. The tent was taken down but she sat on the ground with her babe on her back The rest of the camp with her husband went on.
At noon her husband halted the line. "Go back to your sister-in-law," he said to his two brothers. "Tell her to come on and we will await you here. But hasten, for I fear she may grow desperate and kill herself."
The two rode off and arrived at their former camping place in the evening. The woman still sat on the ground. The elder spoke:
"Sister-in-law, get up. We have come for you. The camp awaits you."
She did not answer, and he put out his hand and touched her head. She had turned to stone!
The two brothers lashed their ponies and came back to camp. They told their story, but were not believed. "The woman has killed herself and my brothers will not tell me," said the husband. However, the whole village broke camp and came back to the place where they had left the woman. Sure enough, she sat there still, a block of stone.
The Indians were greatly excited. They chose out a handsome pony, made a new travois and placed the stone in the carrying net. Pony and travois were both beautifully painted and decorated with streamers and colors. The stone was thought "wakan" (holy), and was given a place of honor in the center of the camp. Whenever the camp moved the stone and travois were taken along. Thus the stone woman was carried for years, and finally brought to Standing Rock Agency, and now rests upon a brick pedestal in front of the Agency office. From this stone Standing Rock Agency derives its name.
STORY OF THE PEACE PIPE
Two young men were out strolling one night talking of love affairs. They passed around a hill and came to a little ravine or coulee. Suddenly they saw coming up from the ravine a beautiful woman. She was painted and her dress was of the very finest material.
"What a beautiful girl!" said one of the young men. "Already I love her. I will steal her and make her my wife."
"No," said the other. "Don't harm her. She may be holy."
The young woman approached and held out a pipe which she first offered to the sky, then to the earth and then advanced, holding it out in her extended hands.
"I know what you young men have been saying; one of you is good; the other is wicked," she said.
She laid down the pipe on the ground and at once became a buffalo cow. The cow pawed the ground, stuck her tail straight out behind her and then lifted the pipe from the ground again in her hoofs; immediately she became a young woman again.
"I am come to give you this gift," she said. "It is the peace pipe. Hereafter all treaties and ceremonies shall be performed after smoking it. It shall bring peaceful thoughts into your minds. You shall offer it to the Great Mystery and to mother earth."
The two young men ran to the village and told what they had seen and heard. All the village came out where the young woman was.
She repeated to them what she had already told the young men and added:
"When you set free the ghost (the spirit of deceased persons) you must have a white buffalo cow skin."
She gave the pipe to the medicine men of the village, turned again to a buffalo cow and fled away to the land of buffaloes.
A young man lived with his grandmother. He was a good hunter and wished to marry. He knew a girl who was a good moccasin maker, but she belonged to a great family. He wondered how he could win her.
One day she passed the tent on her way to get water at the river. His grandmother was at work in the tepee with a pair of old worn-out sloppy moccasins. The young man sprang to his feet. "Quick, grandmother -- let me have those old sloppy moccasins you have on your feet!" he cried.
"My old moccasins, what do you want of them?" cried the astonished woman.
"Never mind! Quick! I can't stop to talk," answered the grandson as he caught up the old moccasins the old lady had doffed, and put them on. He threw a robe over his shoulders, slipped through the door, and hastened to the watering place. The girl had just arrived with her bucket.
"Let me fill your bucket for you," said the young man.
"Oh, no, I can do it."
"Oh, let me, I can go in the mud. You surely don't want to soil your moccasins," and taking the bucket he slipped in the mud, taking care to push his sloppy old moccasins out so the girl could see them. She giggled outright.
"My, what old moccasins you have," she cried.
"Yes, I have nobody to make me a new pair," he answered.
"Why don't you get your grandmother to make you a new pair?"
"She's old and blind and can't make them any longer. That's why I want you," he answered.
"Oh, you're fooling me. You aren't speaking the truth."
"Yes, I am. If you don't believe -- come with me now!"
The girl looked down; so did the youth. At last he said softly:
"Well, which is it? Shall I take up your bucket, or will you go with me?"
And she answered, still more softly: "I guess I'll go with you!"
The girl's aunt came down to the river, wondering what kept her niece so long. In the mud she found two pairs of moccasin tracks close together; at the edge of the water stood an empty keg.
There was a man and his wife who had one daughter. Mother and daughter were deeply attached to one another, and when the latter died the mother was disconsolate. She cut off her hair, cut gashes in her cheeks and sat before the corpse with her robe drawn over her head, mourning for her dead. Nor would she let them touch the body to take it to a burying scaffold. She had a knife in her hand, and if anyone offered to come near the body the mother would wail:
"I am weary of life. I do not care to live. I will stab myself with this knife and join my daughter in the land of spirits."
Her husband and relatives tried to get the knife from her, but could not. They feared to use force lest she kill herself. They came together to see what they could do.
"We must get the knife away from her," they said.
At last they called a boy, a kind of simpleton, yet with a good deal of natural shrewdness. He was an orphan and very poor. His moccasins were out at the sole and he was dressed in wei-zi (coarse buffalo skin, smoked).
"Go to the tepee of the mourning mother," they told the simpleton, "and in some way contrive to make her laugh and forget her grief. Then try to get the knife away from her."
The boy went to the tent and sat down at the door as if waiting to be given something. The corpse lay in the place of honor where the dead girl had slept in life. The body was wrapped in a rich robe and wrapped about with ropes. Friends had covered it with rich offerings out of respect to the dead.
As the mother sat on the ground with her head covered she did not at first see the boy, who sat silent. But when his reserve had worn away a little he began at first lightly, then more heavily, to drum on the floor with his hands. After a while he began to sing a comic song. Louder and louder he sang until carried away with his own singing he sprang up and began to dance, at the same time gesturing and making all manner of contortions with his body, still singing the comic song. As he approached the corpse he waved his hands over it in blessing. The mother put her head out of the blanket and when she saw the poor simpleton with his strange grimaces trying to do honor to the corpse by his solemn waving, and at the same time keeping up his comic song, she burst out laughing. Then she reached over and handed her knife to the simpleton.
"Take this knife," she said. "You have taught me to forget my grief. If while I mourn for the dead I can still be mirthful, there is no reason for me to despair. I no longer care to die. I will live for my husband."
The simpleton left the tepee and brought the knife to the astonished husband and relatives.
"How did you get it? Did you force it away from her, or did you steal it?" they said.
"She gave it to me. How could I force it from her or steal it when she held it in her hand, blade uppermost. I sang and danced for her and she burst out laughing. Then she gave it to me," he answered.
When the old men of the village heard the orphan's story they were very silent. It was a strange thing for a lad to dance in a tepee where there was mourning. It was stranger that a mother should laugh in a tepee before the corpse of her dead daughter. The old men gathered at last in a council. They sat a long time without saying anything, for they did not want to decide hastily. The pipe was filled and passed many times. At last an old man spoke.
"We have a hard question. A mother has laughed before the corpse of her daughter, and many think she has done foolishly, but I think the woman did wisely. The lad was simple and of no training, and we cannot expect him to know how to do as well as one with good home and parents to teach him. Besides, he did the best that he knew. He danced to make the mother forget her grief, and he tried to honor the corpse by waving over it his hands."
"The mother did right to laugh, for when one does try to do us good, even if what he does causes us discomfort, we should always remember rather the motive than the deed. And besides, the simpleton's dancing saved the woman's life, for she gave up her knife. In this, too, she did well, for it is always better to live for the living than to die for the dead."
A village of Indians moved out of winter camp and pitched their tents in a circle on high land overlooking a lake. A little way down the declivity was a grave. Choke cherries had grown up, hiding the grave from view. But as the ground had sunk somewhat, the grave was marked by a slight hollow.
One of the villagers going out to hunt took a short cut through the choke cherry bushes. As he pushed them aside he saw the hollow grave, but thought it was a washout made by the rains. But as he essayed to step over it, to his great surprise he stumbled and fell. Made curious by his mishap, he drew back and tried again; but again he fell. When he came back to the village he told the old men what had happened to him. They remembered then that a long time before there had been buried there a medicine woman or conjurer. Doubtless it was her medicine that made him stumble.
The story of the villager's adventure spread thru the camp and made many curious to see the grave. Among others were six little boys who were, however, rather timid, for they were in great awe of the dead medicine woman. But they had a little playmate named Brave, a mischievous little rogue, whose hair was always unkempt and tossed about and who was never quiet for a moment.
"Let us ask Brave to go with us," they said; and they went in a body to see him.
"All right," said Brave; "I will go with you. But I have something to do first. You go on around the hill that way, and I will hasten around this way, and meet you a little later near the grave."
So the six little boys went on as bidden until they came to a place near the grave. There they halted.
"Where is Brave?" they asked.
Now Brave, full of mischief, had thought to play a jest on his little friends. As soon as they were well out of sight he had sped around the hill to the shore of the lake and sticking his hands in the mud had rubbed it over his face, plastered it in his hair, and soiled his hands until he looked like a new risen corpse with the flesh rotting from his bones. He then went and lay down in the grave and awaited the boys.
When the six little boys came they were more timid than ever when they did not find Brave; but they feared to go back to the village without seeing the grave, for fear the old men would call them cowards.
So they slowly approached the grave and one of them timidly called out:
"Please, grandmother, we won't disturb your grave. We only want to see where you lie. Don't be angry."
At once a thin quavering voice, like an old woman's, called out:
"Han, han, takoja, hechetuya, hechetuya! Yes, yes, that's right, that's right."
The boys were frightened out of their senses, believing the old woman had come to life.
"Oh, grandmother," they gasped, "don't hurt us; please don't, we'll go."
Just then Brave raised his muddy face and hands up thru the choke cherry bushes. With the oozy mud dripping from his features he looked like some very witch just raised from the grave. The boys screamed outright. One fainted. The rest ran yelling up the hill to the village, where each broke at once for his mother's tepee.
As all the tents in a Dakota camping circle face the center, the boys as they came tearing into camp were in plain view from the tepees. Hearing the screaming, every woman in camp ran to her tepee door to see what had happened. Just then little Brave, as badly scared as the rest, came rushing in after them, his hair on end and covered with mud and crying out, all forgetful of his appearance:
"It's me, it's me!"
The women yelped and bolted in terror from the village. Brave dashed into his mother's tepee, scaring her out of her wits. Dropping pots and kettles, she tumbled out of the tent to run screaming with the rest. Nor would a single villager come near poor little Brave until he had gone down to the lake and washed himself.
There once lived a widow with two children -- the elder a daughter and the younger a son. The widow went in mourning for her husband a long time. She cut off her hair, let her dress lie untidy on her body and kept her face unpainted and unwashed.
There lived in the same village a great chief. He had one son just come old enough to marry. The chief had it known that he wished his son to take a wife, and all of the young women in the village were eager to marry the young man. However, he was pleased with none of them.
Now the widow thought, "I am tired of mourning for my husband and caring for my children. Perhaps if I lay aside my mourning and paint myself red, the chief's son may marry me."
So she slipped away from her two children, stole down to the river and made a bathing place thru the ice. When she had washed away all signs of mourning she painted and decked herself and went to the chief's tepee. When his son saw her, he loved her, and a feast was made in honor of her wedding.
When the widow's daughter found herself forsaken, she wept bitterly. After a day or two she took her little brother in her arms and went to the tepee of an old woman who lived at one end of the village. The old woman's tumble down tepee was of bark and her dress and clothing was of old smoke-dried tent cover. But she was kind to the two waifs and took them in willingly.
The little girl was eager to find her mother. The old woman said to her: "I suspect your mother has painted her face red. Do not try to find her. If the chief's son marries her she will not want to be burdened with you."
The old woman was right. The girl went down to the river, and sure enough found a hole cut in the ice and about it lay the filth that the mother had washed from her body. The girl gathered up the filth and went on. By and by she came to a second hole in the ice. Here too was filth, but not so much as at the previous place. At the third hole the ice was clean.
The girl knew now that her mother had painted her face red. She went at once to the chief's tepee, raised the door flap and went in. There sat her mother with the chief's son at their wedding feast.
The girl walked up to her mother and hurled the filth in her mother's face.
"There," she cried, "you who forsake your helpless children and forget your husband, take that!"
And at once her mother became a hideous old woman.
The girl then went back to the lodge of the old woman, leaving the camp in an uproar. The chief soon sent some young warriors to seize the girl and her brother, and they were brought to his tent. He was furious with anger.
"Let the children be bound with lariats wrapped about their bodies and let them be left to starve. Our camp will move on," he said. The chief's son did not put away his wife, hoping she might be cured in some way and grow young again.
Everybody in camp now got ready to move; but the old woman came close to the girl and said:
"In my old tepee I have dug a hole and buried a pot with punk and steel and flint and packs of dried meat. They will tie you up like a corpse. But before we go I will come with a knife and pretend to stab you, but I will really cut the rope that binds you so that you can unwind it from your body as soon as the camp is out of sight and hearing."
And so, before the camp started, the old woman came to the place where the two children were bound. She had in her hand a knife bound to the end of a stick which she used as a lance. She stood over the children and cried aloud:
"You wicked girl, who have shamed your own mother, you deserve all the punishment that is given you. But after all I do not want to let you lie and starve. Far better kill you at once and have done with it!" and with her stick she stabbed many times, as if to kill, but she was really cutting the rope.
The camp moved on; but the children lay on the ground until noon the next day. Then they began to squirm about. Soon the girl was free, and she then set loose her little brother. They went at once to the old woman's hut where they found the flint and steel and the packs of dried meat.
The girl made her brother a bow and arrows and with these he killed birds and other small game.
The boy grew up a great hunter. They became rich. They built three great tepees, in one of which were stored rows upon rows of parfleche bags of dried meat.
One day as the brother went out to hunt, he met a handsome young stranger who greeted him and said to him:
"I know you are a good hunter, for I have been watching you; your sister, too, is industrious. Let me have her for a wife. Then you and I will be brothers and hunt together."
The girl's brother went home and told her what the young stranger had said.
"Brother, I do not care to marry," she answered. "I am now happy with you."
"But you will be yet happier married," he answered, "and the young stranger is of no mean family, as one can see by his dress and manners."
"Very well, I will do as you wish," she said. So the stranger came into the tepee and was the girl's husband.
One day as they were in their tent, a crow flew overhead, calling out loudly,
They who forsook the children have no meat."
The girl and her husband and brother looked up at one another.
"What can it mean?" they asked. "Let us send for Unktomi (the spider). He is a good judge and he will know."
"And I will get ready a good dinner for him, for Unktomi is always hungry," added the young wife.
When Unktomi came, his yellow mouth opened with delight at the fine feast spread for him. After he had eaten he was told what the crow had said.
"The crow means," said Unktomi, "that the villagers and chief who bound and deserted you are in sad plight. They have hardly anything to eat and are starving."
When the girl heard this she made a bundle of choicest meat and called the crow.
"Take this to the starving villagers," she bade him.
He took the bundle in his beak, flew away to the starving village and dropped the bundle before the chief's tepee. The chief came out and the crow called loudly:
The children who were forsaken have much meat; those who forsook them have none."
"What can he mean," cried the astonished villagers.
"Let us send for Unktomi," said one, "he is a great judge; he will tell us."
They divided the bundle of meat among the starving people, saving the biggest piece for Unktomi.
When Unktomi had come and eaten, the villagers told him of the crow and asked what the bird's words meant.
"He means," said Unktomi, "that the two children whom you forsook have tepees full of dried meat enough for all the village."
The villagers were filled with astonishment at this news. To find whether or not it was true, the chief called seven young men and sent them out to see. They came to the three tepees and there met the girl's brother and husband just going out to hunt (which they did now only for sport).
The girl's brother invited the seven young men into the third or sacred lodge, and after they had smoked a pipe and knocked out the ashes on a buffalo bone the brother gave them meat to eat, which the seven devoured greedily. The next day he loaded all seven with packs of meat, saying:
"Take this meat to the villagers and lead them hither."
While they awaited the return of the young men with the villagers, the girl made two bundles of meat, one of the best and choicest pieces, and the other of liver, very dry and hard to eat. After a few days the camp arrived. The young woman's mother opened the door and ran in crying: "Oh, my dear daughter, how glad I am to see you." But the daughter received her coldly and gave her the bundle of dried
liver to eat. But when the old woman who had saved the children's lives came in, the young girl received her gladly, called her grandmother, and gave her the package of choice meat with marrow.
Then the whole village camped and ate of the stores of meat all the winter until spring came; and withal they were so many, there was such abundance of stores that there was still much left.
When corn is to be planted by the Indians, it is the work of the women folk to see to the sorting and cleaning of the best seed. It is also the women's work to see to the planting. (This was in olden times.)
After the best seed has been selected, the planter measures the corn, lays down a layer of hay, then a layer of corn. Over this corn they sprinkle warm water and cover it with another layer of hay, then bind hay about the bundle and hang it up in a spot where the warm rays of the sun can strike it.
While the corn is hanging in the sun, the ground is being prepared to receive it. Having finished the task of preparing the ground, the woman takes down her seed corn which has by this time sprouted. Then she proceeds to plant the corn.
Before she plants the first hill, she extends her hoe heavenwards and asks the Great Spirit to bless her work, that she may have a good yield. After her prayer she takes four kernels and plants one at the north, one at the south, one at the east and one at the west sides of the first hill. This is asking the Great Spirit to give summer rain and sunshine to bring forth a good crop.
For different growths of the corn, the women have an interpretation as to the character of the one who planted it.
1st. Where the corn grows in straight rows and the cob is full of kernels to the end, this signifies that the planter of this corn is of an exemplary character, and is very truthful and thoughtful.
2nd. If the rows on the ears of corn are irregular and broken, the planter is considered careless and unthoughtful. Also disorderly and slovenly about her house and person.
3rd. When an ear of corn bears a few scattering kernels with spaces producing no corn, it is said that is a good sign that the planter will live to a ripe old age. So old will they be that like the corn, their teeth will be few and far between.
4th. When a stalk bears a great many nubbins, or small ears growing around the large one, it is a sign that the planter is from a large and respectable family.
After the corn is gathered, it is boiled into sweet corn and made into hominy; parched and mixed with buffalo tallow and rolled into round balls, and used at feasts, or carried by the warriors on the warpath as food.
When there has been a good crop of corn, an ear is always tied at the top of the medicine pole, of the sun dance, in thanks to the Great Spirit for his goodness to them in sending a bountiful crop.
The Rabbit nation were very much depressed in spirits on account of being run over by all other nations. They, being very obedient to their chief, obeyed all his orders to the letter. One of his orders was, that upon the approach of any other nation that they should follow the example of their chief and run up among the rocks and down into their burrows, and not show themselves until the strangers had passed.
This they always did. Even the chirp of a little cricket would send them all scampering to their dens.
One day they held a great council, and after talking over everything for some time, finally left it to their medicine man to decide. The medicine man arose and said:
"My friends, we are of no use on this earth. There isn't a nation on earth that fears us, and we are so timid that we cannot defend ourselves, so the best thing for us to do is to rid the earth of our nation, by all going over to the big lake and drowning ourselves."
This they decided to do; so going to the lake they were about to jump in, when they heard a splashing in the water. Looking, they saw a lot of frogs jumping into the lake.
"We will not drown ourselves," said the medicine man, "we have found a nation who are afraid of us. It is the frog nation." Had it not been for the frogs we would have had no rabbits, as the whole nation would have drowned themselves and the rabbit race would have been extinct.
Once upon a time there were two brothers, one a great Genie and the other a rabbit. Like all genie, the older could change himself into any kind of an animal, bird, fish, cloud, thunder and lightning, or in fact anything that he desired.
The younger brother (the rabbit) was very mischievous and was continually getting into all kinds of trouble. His older brother was kept busy getting Rabbit out of all kinds of scrapes.
When Rabbit had attained his full growth he wanted to travel around and see something of the world. When he told his brother what he intended to do, the brother said: "Now, Rabbit, you are Witkotko (mischievous, so be very careful, and keep out of trouble as much as possible. In case you get into any serious trouble, and can't get out by yourself, just call on me for assistance, and no matter where you are, I will come to you."
Rabbit started out and the first day he came to a very high house, outside of which stood a very high pine tree. So high was the tree that Rabbit could hardly see the top. Outside the door, on an enormous stool, sat a very large giant fast asleep. Rabbit (having his bow and arrows with him) strung up his bow, and, taking an arrow from his quiver, said:
"I want to see how big this man is, so I guess I will wake him up." So saying he moved over to one side and took good aim, and shot the giant upon the nose. This stung like fire and awoke the giant, who jumped up, crying: "Who had the audacity to shoot me on the nose?" "I did," said Rabbit.
The giant, hearing a voice, looked all around, but saw nothing, until he looked down at the corner of the house, and there sat a rabbit.
"I had hiccoughs this morning and thought that I was going to have a good big meal, and here is nothing but a toothful."
"I guess you won't make a toothful of me," said Rabbit, "I am as strong as you, though I am little." "We will see," said the giant. He went into the house and came out, bringing a hammer that weighed many tons.
"Now, Mr. Rabbit, we will see who can throw this hammer over the top of that tree." "Get something harder to do," said Rabbit.
"Well, we will try this first," said the giant. With that he grasped the hammer in both hands, swung it three times around his head and sent it spinning thru the air. Up, up, it went, skimming the top of the tree, and came down, shaking the ground and burying itself deep into the earth.
"Now," said the giant, "if you don't accomplish this same feat, I am going to swallow you at one mouthful." Rabbit said, "I always sing to my brother before I attempt things like this." So he commenced singing and calling his brother. "Cinye! Cinye!" (brother, brother) he sang. The giant grew nervous, and said: "Boy, why do you call your brother?"
Pointing to a small black cloud that was approaching very swiftly, Rabbit said: "That is my brother; be can destroy you, your house, and pine tree in one breath."
"Stop him and you can go free," said the giant. Rabbit waved his paws and the cloud disappeared.
From this place Rabbit continued on his trip towards the west. The next day, while passing thru a deep forest, he thought he heard some one moaning, as though in pain. He stopped and listened; soon the wind blew and the moaning grew louder. Following the direction from whence came the sound, he soon discovered a man stripped of his clothing, and caught between two limbs of a tall elm tree. When the wind blew the limbs would rub together and squeeze the man, who would give forth the mournful groans.
"My, you have a fine place up there. Let us change. You can come down and I will take your place." (Now this man had been placed up there for punishment, by Rabbit's brother, and he could not get down unless some one came along and proposed to take his place on the tree). "Very well," said the man. "Take off your clothes and come up. I will fasten you in the limbs and you can have all the fun you want."
Rabbit disrobed and climbed up. The man placed him between the limbs and slid down the tree. He hurriedly got into Rabbit's clothes, and just as he had completed his toilet, the wind blew very hard.
Rabbit was nearly crazy with pain, and screamed and cried. Then he began to cry "Cinye, Cinye" (brother, brother). "Call your brother as much as you like, he can never find me." So saying the man disappeared in the forest.
Scarcely had he disappeared, when the brother arrived, and seeing Rabbit in the tree, said: "Which way did he go?" Rabbit pointed the direction taken by the man. The brother flew over the top of the trees, soon found the man and brought him back, making him take his old place between the limbs, and causing a heavy wind to blow and continue all afternoon and night, for punishment to the man for having placed his brother up there.
After Rabbit got his clothes back on, his brother gave him a good scolding, and wound up by saying: "I want you to be more careful in the future. I have plenty of work to keep me as busy as I want to be, and I can't be stopping every little while to be making trips to get you out of some foolish scrape. It was only yesterday that I came five hundred miles to help you from the giant, and today I have had to come a thousand miles, so be more careful from this on."
Several days after this the Rabbit was traveling along the banks of a small river, when he came to a small clearing in the woods, and in the center of the clearing stood a nice little log hut. Rabbit was wondering who could be living here when the door slowly opened and an old man appeared in the doorway, bearing a tripe water pail in his right hand. In his left hand he held a string which was fastened to the inside of the house. He kept hold of the string and came slowly down to the river. When he got to the water he stooped down and dipped the pail into it and returned to the house, still holding the string for guidance.
Soon he reappeared holding on to another string, and, following this one, went to a large pile of wood and returned to the house with it. Rabbit wanted to see if the old man would come out again, but he came out no more. Seeing smoke ascending from the mud chimney, he thought he would go over and see what the old man was doing. He knocked at the door, and a weak voice bade him enter. He noticed that the old man was cooking dinner.
"Hello Tunkasina (grandfather), you must have a nice time, living here alone. I see that you have everything handy. You can get wood and water, and that is all you have to do. How do you get your provisions?"
"The wolves bring my meat, the mice my rice and ground beans, and the birds bring me the cherry leaves for my tea. Yet it is a hard life, as I am all alone most of the time and have no one to talk to, and besides, I am blind."
"Say, grandfather," said Rabbit, "let us change places. I think I would like to live here."
"If we exchange clothes," said the other, "you will become old and blind, while I will assume your youth and good looks." (Now, this old man was placed here for punishment by Rabbit's brother. He had killed his wife, so the genie made him old and blind, and he would remain so until some one came who would exchange places with him).
"I don't care for youth and good looks," said Rabbit, "let us make the change."
They changed clothes, and Rabbit became old and blind, whilst the old man became young and handsome.
"Well, I must go," said the man. He went out and cutting the strings close to the door, ran off laughing. "You will get enough of your living alone, you crazy boy," and saying this he ran into the woods.
Rabbit thought he would like to get some fresh water and try the string paths so that he would get accustomed to it. He bumped around the room and finally found the tripe water bucket. He took hold of the string and started out. When he had gotten a short distance from the door he came to the end of the string so suddenly, that he lost the end which he had in his hand, and he wandered about, bumping against the trees, and tangling himself up in plum bushes and thorns, scratching his face and hands so badly that the blood ran from them. Then it was that he commenced again to cry, "Cinye! Cinye!" (brother, brother). Soon his brother arrived, and asked which way the old man had gone.
"I don't know," said Rabbit, "I couldn't see which path he took, as I was blind."
The genie called the birds, and they came flying from every direction. As fast as they arrived the brother asked them if they had seen the man whom he had placed here for punishment, but none had seen him. The owl came last, and when asked if he had seen the man, he said "hoo-hoo." "The man who lived here," said the brother. "Last night I was hunting mice in the woods south of here and I saw a man sleeping beneath a plum tree. I thought it was your brother, Rabbit, so I didn't awaken him," said the owl.
"Good for you, owl," said the brother, "for this good news, you shall hereafter roam around only at night, and I will fix your eyes, so the darker the night the better you will be able to see. You will always have the fine cool nights to hunt your food. You other birds can hunt your food during the hot daylight." (Since then the owl has been the night bird).
The brother flew to the woods and brought the man back and cut the strings short, and said to him: "Now you can get a taste of what you gave my brother."
To Rabbit he said: "I ought not to have helped you this time. Any one who is so crazy as to change places with a blind man should be left without help, so be careful, as I am getting tired of your foolishness, and will not help you again if you do anything as foolish as you did this time."
Rabbit started to return to his home. When he had nearly completed his journey he came to a little creek, and being thirsty took a good long drink. While he was drinking he heard a noise as though a wolf or cat was scratching the earth. Looking up to a hill which overhung the creek, he saw four wolves, with their tails intertwined, pulling with all their might. As Rabbit came up to them one pulled loose, and Rabbit saw that his tail was broken.
"Let me pull tails with you. My tail is long and strong," said Rabbit, and the wolves assenting, Rabbit interlocked his long tail with those of the three wolves and commenced pulling and the wolves pulled so hard that they pulled Rabbit's tail off at the second joint. The wolves disappeared.
"Cinye! Cinye! (Brother, brother.) I have lost my tail," cried Rabbit. The genie came and seeing his brother Rabbit's tail missing, said: "You look better without a tail anyway."
From that time on rabbits have had no tails.